Like many long-running bands, Van Halen's approach to music videos changed dramatically over the years.

After releasing just a handful of low-budget lip-synced or live videos in their pre-MTV years, the group dove into the format headfirst and very successfully with more expansive and humor-laced clips for songs such as "Panama" and "Hot for Teacher."

When original singer David Lee Roth left and took his knack for outlandish videos with him, the group scaled down their comedic ambitions and released more conventional videos, with the notable exception of 1992's award-winning "Right Now."

Of course, "conventional" is a relative term, and Van Halen's post-Roth videos still include more than their fair share of prison fights, airplane stunts, ice castles and power drills.

Here's our ranking of every Van Halen music video.

34. "Can't Stop Lovin' You"
From: Balance (1995)

The second single from Van Halen's last album with Sammy Hagar is soggy Hallmark card set to some of the most domesticated music the band ever released. Apart from the baby monkey, the video is also quite lame.

 

33. "Fire in the Hole"
From: Van Halen III (1998)

Obviously, Van Halen were at a career low point here. But they still deserved better than to play second fiddle to scenes from the fourth Lethal Weapon movie in their own video.

 

32. "Dreams" (Blue Angels Version)
From: 5150 (1986)

Van Halen almost completely eschewed music videos for their first post-David Lee Roth album, stating a desire to keep the focus on the music and further separating themselves from their former frontman's comedic image. The only video released from 5150 was "Dreams," a collaboration with the U.S. Navy's elite Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron. While their aerial stunts are very impressive, without a supporting narrative beyond the song's "higher and higher" lyric, the video looks more like something that should be playing in a recruitment office.

 

31. "Amsterdam"
From: Balance (1995)

Born in Amsterdam, Eddie Van Halen wasn't a fan of the sophomoric lyrics for this song, apparently having hoped Sammy Hagar would be inspired to write more than just "oh wow look! Legal weed and prostitution." But the singer wouldn't budge, and the video comes off like former frat boys trying to relive their wild years.

 

30. "Top of the World"
From: For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (1991)

It's not that there's anything exactly wrong with this video. The song's called "Top of the World" so you get all sorts of archival space exploration videos, cool, that makes sense. But the color effects and the constantly changing split frames are quite dated and were always more than a bit distracting.

 

29. "Dreams" (Live Version)
28. "Won't Get Fooled Again"

From: Live: Right Here, Right Now (1993)

Logically enough, Van Halen sought to promote their first-ever live album by showing what they could do as a live band, releasing two videos featuring brand-new performances that are different from the ones featured on Live: Right Here Right Now. The first finds them playing the 5150 single "Dreams" during a special club show, in the second they tackle the Who classic "Won't Get Fooled Again" live in the studio. Alex Van Halen's mustache is far and away the star of both performances.

 

27. "Not Enough"
From: Balance (1995)

No hot takes to be had here: This is a perfectly lovely, nicely-shot video for one of Van Halen's more underrated ballads.

 

26. "Humans Being"
From: Twister Soundtrack (1996)

Sammy Hagar and the Van Halen brothers fought like cats and dogs during the recording of this song, and the two sides parted ways shortly thereafter. Both the song and the storm-themed video channel that anger well - check out Sammy and Eddie screaming in each other's faces around the 1:45 mark. The biggest shame is that the video cuts out the first half of Van Halen's brilliantly composed guitar solo.

 

25. "Feels So Good"
From: OU812 (1988)

With its constant scrolling, the "Feels So Good" video almost feels more like an old computer screensaver. But the band's personalities shine through nicely as they gamely mime one of the most underappreciated songs of the Van Hagar era.

 

24. "Tattoo"
23. "She's the Woman"
From: A Different Kind of Truth (2012)

Nearly three decades after 1984, Roth returned to Van Halen for brand-new studio album. But anybody expecting the band to bring back comedic, conceptual videos was in for a disappointment. The two clips released from A Different Kind of Truth focus are strictly performance-based rehearsal studio clips, with "She's the Woman" also blending in shots from large and small-scale concerts. It seemed like a bit of a missed opportunity at the time, and that feeling only got deeper years later when new bassist Wolfgang Van Halen also revealed himself to be a master of humorous videos.

 

22. "Don't Tell Me (What Love Can Do)"
From: Balance (1995)

Like many veteran bands, Van Halen dealt with the grunge revolution by cutting their hair and singing about more serious topics. The "Don't Tell Me (What Love Can Do)" video is basically a condensed version of the 1978 Scared Straight! prison documentary, although the biggest crime committed here is that Eddie Van Halen's solo is once again cut in half.

 

21. "Finish What Ya Started"
From: OU812 (1988)

There's not much winking self-awareness to be found in the cowgirl-themed video for "Finish What Ya Started" - but what did you really expect from the millionth song about blue balls? The video does at least emphasize the song's creative country influence, with Eddie Van Halen sporting a plaid shirt, boots and a cowboy hat at one point.

 

20. "Without You"
From: Van Halen III (1998)

Van Halen spared no expense or effort while attempting to introduce their third lead singer to the world. The band reportedly spent a million dollars to film "Without You" at Sweden's Icehotel. The visuals are suitably impressive, but in the end you'll spend most of your time wondering just what in the hell is up with Eddie Van Halen's jester hat and "boxers on the outside" fashion choices.

 

19. "Runaround"
From: For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (1991)

Good ideas don't have to be complicated. Here's a gold star to whoever came up with the idea of having Van Halen perform on a gigantic record player for their "Runaround" video.

 

18. "So This Is Love?"
From: Fair Warning (1981)

Filmed for an Italian TV show called Happy Circus, this low-budget clip for "So This Is Love" finds the band cavorting amongst giant dinosaur statues. It's a shame they never returned to film another one for "Baluchitherium."

 

17. "Poundcake"
From: For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (1991)

Van Halen make their first tentative post-Roth step into video storytelling, although the thin-bare plot basically involves some scantily-clad women nearly skewering another who was peaking into their locker room. Eddie Van Halen makes far more effective use of power tools during the song's famous introduction, and the massive stage and lighting rigs show that some serious money was spent here.

 

16. "When It's Love"
From: OU812 (1988)

The Sammy Hagar-fronted version of Van Halen makes their formal video debut with a simple but effective (and very well lit) clip showing the band performing what might be their best-ever ballad to a crowd of two after closing time at a small club.

 

15. "Jamie's Cryin'"
14. "Runnin' With the Devil"
13. "Eruption / You Really Got Me"
From: Van Halen (1978)

Like most '70s bands, Van Halen's video career began very modestly, with three lip-synced performance clips that were clearly recorded at the same session - you'll notice their wardrobe never changes. But the band had honed their live presentation though years of club gigs, and Roth instantly made the camera his best friend.

 

12. "Dance the Night Away"
From: Van Halen II (1979)

We'll give the lone video from Van Halen's second album a slight edge over the previous three simply because it features a unique, live performance of their new single "Dance The Night Away." The band also shows off some impressive four-part harmonies during a brief pre-song backstage segment.

 

11. "Best of Both Worlds"
From: 5150 / Live Without a Net (1986)

Less than a year after releasing 5150, Van Halen showed off the chemistry and camaraderie they had built with new singer Sammy Hagar on their first-ever longform concert video, Live Without a Net. The nine-minute performance of "Best of Both Worlds" show how the song had quickly become the centerpiece of the band's set list.


10. "So This Is Love?"

9. "Hear About it Later"
8. "Unchained"
From: Fair Warning (1981)

In June of 1981, Van Halen filmed live promotional videos for three songs from their Fair Warning album during a three-night stand in Oakland. Supposedly, the full audio from the band's June 11th show was recorded, and David Lee Roth later claimed that all three shows were filmed. Could we ever get a prime original lineup Van Halen live album? Only time will tell, but if the results are as good as these three songs it'll be worth whatever wait we have to endure.

 

7. "Loss of Control"
From: Women and Children First (1980)

Paging doctors Roth, Van Halen, Van Halen and Anthony! This rarely-seen video from Van Halen's third studio album finds the band donning scrubs and masks while performing in what has got to be the world's least sanitary operating room.

 

6. "Right Now"
From: For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (1991)

Sammy Hagar initially hated the concept for the most famous video from his time with Van Halen. "I told the director, 'Fuck you, man. People ain't even going to be listening to what I'm saying because they're going to be reading these subtitles." After getting pressured by the head of his label, Hagar unwillingly participated - he's not acting unhappy at the 1:50 mark or when he slams the door at the video's end. "Shows what I know!" the singer gleefully admitted years and a shelf full of awards later.

 

5. "(Oh) Pretty Woman"
From: Diver Down (1982)

Michael Anthony, doing his best John Belushi samurai impression, teams up with Alex Van Halen's Tarzan, his brother Eddie's cowboy and David Lee Roth's limousine-riding Napoleon to rescue a damsel in distress while demonstrating just how far the band was willing to go to conquer MTV. Or, how crazy six straight years touring the world had made them, your choice.

 

4. "Jump"
From: 1984 (1984)

One one hand, Van Halen's "Jump" is just a cheaply-made rehearsal studio performance video. But the band was able to translate their onstage charm and charisma to the music video medium perfectly during the four-minute clip, which catapulted them to super-stardom.

 

3. "Everybody Wants Some!!"
From: Women and Children First (1980) / Better Off Dead (1985)

OK technically this isn't a Van Halen music video. But the animated dream sequence from 1985's Better Off Dead, in which John Cusack envisions himself as the Frankenstein-style father of a hard-rocking hamburger, might be the "rock at the movies" high point of the '80s. “It was just so, so out there and stupid, that everybody was really worried about it,” movie writer and director Steve Holland recalled of the studio’s response to the scene. “But it was the highest testing thing when we went to the test audience. They thought that was the greatest thing in the whole movie.”

 

2. "Panama"
From: 1984 (1984)

Partially filmed in front of a live crown on Van Halen's massive 1984 tour, the "Panama" video shows the band's original lineup at the height of their fame. But their true artistic genius is revealed in smaller moments - such as when the sputtering biplane magically transforms into a soaring, boombox-toting David Lee Roth at the start of the clip.

 

1. "Hot for Teacher"
From: 1984 (1984)

Talk about going out on top. Classic Van Halen's final video is one of the most famous and creative clips to ever air on MTV. It finds the band teaming up with younger versions of themselves to torment sweet, sweet Waldo and generally turn their school upside down. We also get a glimpse of what the future holds for each member of the group, with David Lee Roth as of course, a game show host. It's a shame that this was the end for the band's original lineup, but the final shot of the grinning foursome taking a bow in salmon-colored tuxedos couldn't be a more perfect farewell.

Van Halen Albums Ranked

A ranking of every Van Halen album.

Gallery Credit: Ultimate Classic Rock Staff

More From Eagle 106.3